This Uber Driver Made $252,000 Last Year—Here’s How He Did It

Taxi Drivers Protest Possible Uber Expansion In NYC
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You might be familiar with the concept of driving for Uber or Lyft as a side gig, but Gavin Escolar has taken this part-time job to another level.

Last year, he made a whopping $252,000 driving people around.

His secret? He turned his car into a mobile showroom for his burgeoning jewelry business.

You can totally replicate Escolar’s model if you’ve got a side gig or business idea in the works, like trying to get an Etsy shop off the ground or grow your pet-sitting services.

Escolar moved to San Francisco from the Philippines to start his own business, but when times got tough, he started driving for Uber to make ends meet. Some passengers would chat with him while he drove.

“I thought they would be silent or on the phone,” Escolar told Forbes. “But most people wanted to talk. When I mentioned my jewelry, they asked for business cards, but I didn’t have any.”

Rather than get business cards printed up, Escolar decided he would let his products do the talking. He started placing jewelry and catalogs around the car.

Escolar says the trick to making his business model work is to let customers lead the way—he never pushes his jewelry onto them. Plus, his unique tactic is more organic and cheaper than traditional advertising or sales methods.

“It’s a salesman’s dream,” he said. “I have 10 minutes to make an impression. Would that happen if I went door-to-door? Or if I bought tiny online ads? My way, I get quality time with quality leads. Best of all, I’m being paid as I do it. It’s like Uber is providing a base salary before I make any jewelry sales.”

Beyond that, he’s been able to network with several high-profile executives, including Vogue fashion editors and investors, by driving them around.

Uber says it’s totally cool with what Escolar is doing. And his customers are too—Escolar has a high rating from thousands of Uber and Lyft passengers.

What Do Side Gigs Really Pay?

If you’re reading Escolar’s story and wondering how common this is, you’re onto something. Most Uber drivers don’t pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Some 44 million Americans have a side gig today, but have you ever wondered how much they really make?

Thanks to that smartphone in your pocket, and an instant connection to potential customers, you can now drive your car, rent out your home or do tasks for people to make money.

Getty Images | Carl Court

But how much can you really make, working a side gig for Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Etsy or other services?

A study claims you may not take home much of a salary if you are not completely committed to it.

Despite reports of people earning $100,000 a year at some of these services, a new report finds that 85% of side gig workers earn less than $500 a month.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

The California based loan provider Earnest analyzed thousands of loan applications, and found the average pay of many gig economy jobs.

  • Airbnb paid the most, with a median income of $440 a month. The average monthly income of users was $924.
  • Lyft: median income of $210 a month. The average monthly income of users was $377.
  • Uber: median income of $155 per month. The average monthly income of users was $364.
  • Task Rabbit: median income of $110 a month. The average monthly income of users was $380.
  • Doordash (a food delivery app): median income of $100 a month. The average monthly income was $229.
  • Etsy: median income of $40 a month. The average monthly income was $151.

It’s important to note that there Earnest found a wide range of earnings—some Airbnb hosts, for example, made over $10,000 a month.


So there you have it: the most lucrative side gigs. Now you can make an informed decisions about how to spend your time!

John Matarese contributed to this report.

About the Author
Sarah Kuta

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning writer and editor based in Colorado. She writes regularly about how to find deals, save money and find side gigs. Reach her at More.